Pre workout is giving the extra kick during the training session. It can also help you to stay focused and driven to get the most out of your workouts. That is however, if it doesn’t cause an unexpected bowel movement in the process. This begs the question; why does preworkout make you poop?
In this article, we'll explain why pre-workout can cause intestinal distress and tips on how to avoid stomach discomfort in the process of your training session.
Why Does Pre Workout Make You Poop? Pre-workout makes you poop because of caffeine that stimulates colon contractions. Some sweeteners and other food additives may also be the cause of diarrhea and digestive discomfort. If you do not have diarrhea, abdominal pain or other additional symptoms except for the desire to go to the bathroom, there is no significant cause for concern.
Why Do You Poop After a Pre-workout Supplement?
The fact is that pre-workout usually contains many ingredients. Some of them can stimulate the motility of our colon, which leads to a strong urge to go to the toilet. It may also be an intolerance to certain ingredients with an ergogenic effect or food additives that can affect the function of our gastrointestinal tract. If your gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive to certain ingredients and cannot digest them properly, they may make you want to get rid of them.
Reasons Why Pre Workout Makes You Poop
Pre-workout formulas, which are commonly consumed by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to boost energy and performance during exercise, can sometimes lead to bowel movements or even diarrhea. So can pre workout make you poop and what in pre workout makes you poop?
Here are some of the reasons why pre workout makes you poop:
The effects of caffeine have the ability to give you an energy boost prior to engaging in high-intensity exercise, but unfortunately, there’s another side effect that comes with it.
Studies have found that in some people caffeine has the ability to stimulate the contraction of the colon, as well as to exert pressure on the anal sphincter and cause it to contract. With caffeine being a key ingredient in pre-workouts, it's no wonder why many people feel the need to go to the bathroom during their workouts. This urge can disrupt your exercise routine and be extremely inconvenient.
This effect fortunately doesn't mean you should stop using your pre-workout supplement just yet. Stay tuned for more caffeine recommendations below.
What in pre workout makes you poop besides caffeine? Betaine is one of the ingredients often found in pre-workout supplements. However, in rare cases, high doses may cause diarrhea. Therefore, it may also be on the suspect list.
Pre-workout supplements often contain a mix of certain vitamins and minerals, including magnesium. Unfortunately, high doses of magnesium from supplementation can trigger diarrhea, which can be accompanied by nausea and abdominal cramping.
Laxative effect and diarrhea is most often caused by such forms of supplemental magnesium as carbonate, chloride, gluconate, oxide and hydroxide. This is due to the fact that these forms of magnesium are more difficult to absorb, and they also may cause the stimulation of peristalsis.
Therefore, when choosing pre-workout, pay attention to the form and dosage of magnesium. High doses of magnesium, especially in the forms listed above, can have a laxative effect. It also may be wise to avoid taking other supplements or medications which contain this mineral as well.
Food Additives (Including Sweeteners, Emulsifiers and Others)
Based on scientific data mainly obtained on animals, scientists assume that food additives can influence the composition of microbiota and can affect the function of our gut. Thus, it cannot be ruled out that food additives (such as sweeteners, thickeners and others) may also contribute to our desire to go to the bathroom.
One of the most unpleasant incidents that can only be imagined during training is diarrhea. But don't be too quick to blame only sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners, as pre workout diarrhea may be associated with sweeteners such as stevia and Monk fruit, which are perceived by many as the best alternative to sucralose or acesulfame potassium.
In general, pre-workouts may contain from a few ingredients to ten or even more. After all, in addition to key ingredients with ergogenic effects (caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, citrulline, and others), they may also contain food additives that improve taste, mixability, and other characteristics. Each of us may have an intolerance or hypersensitivity to a certain ingredient, which can be expressed in the form of a desire to go to the bathroom. Secondly, the ingredients can interact with each other in an unpredictable manner.
Therefore, consider that someone will not experience the urge to have a bowel movement, while another may run to the toilet every time he drinks a pre-workout beverage. However, if it does not cause abdominal pain, severe bloating and especially diarrhea, then there is no problem. Especially if you feel that energy boost, better focus and better athletic performance during training. And if you have any doubts about whether you should take a pre-workout at all, you can always consult a gastroenterologist.
Tips to Choose a Pre-workout That Won’t Cause Diarrhea
When choosing products to help your athletic performance, it's critical to understand the ingredients in the pre-workout you choose and their potential side effects.
Here are some tips for choosing a pre-workout that won’t cause you to dash off to the bathroom mid-set, or suffer from diarrhea:
Go for Low Caffeine Options
You can make simple adjustments to reduce caffeine exposure:
- Choose pre-workouts with a lower dose of caffeine per serving,
- Add less powder than indicated per serving, so the dose of caffeine will also be reduced,
- Wait until the caffeine takes you to the toilet and go to the training after you have done your thing (suitable if the caffeine stimulates the contraction of the colon 10-15 minutes after taking the pre-workout),
- Just go to the toilet when you feel the urge during your training session (don't ignore the urge to pass stool not to provoke constipation),
- Use products without caffeine.
If the cause of your trips to the bathroom is caffeine, with these recommendations you can solve the problem if it is a real problem for you. With a bit of trial and error, you should be able to find the balance that works best for you.
Do Not Overdo With Betaine
The dosage of betaine that showed performance enhancing effects in studies is 1.25-2.5 g. Therefore, to obtain the maximum training effect and simultaneously reduce the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms, it is better to choose products that contain no more than 2.5 g of betaine.
Avoid Pre-workouts With Magnesium
It sounds obvious, but it's important to read the labels of any supplement you take. Pay close attention to the ingredients list and be sure to avoid anything that could cause digestive distress, especially high doses of magnesium in the form of carbonate, chloride, gluconate, oxide and hydroxide.
Fortunately, not many pre-workout supplements contain magnesium.
Pay Attention to Sweeteners
As already mentioned, some sweeteners, including stevia and Monk Fruit (can be specified as Luo Han Guo) may also cause diarrhea. So if a pre-workout contains these sweeteners, it may not be right for you.
Choose a Product With the Fewest Ingredients List
We may have intolerances or sensitivities to certain ingredients, including food additives, and not even know it. Also, food additives can interact with each other and with key ingredients that provide a performance enhancing effect. Therefore, it is better to choose products that contain a minimum of additional ingredients besides the key performance enhancing components.
The fewer ingredients in the pre-workout, the less likely it is to come across something that can cause a gastrointestinal reaction in the form of diarrhea or an urgent desire to go to the bathroom in the middle of your training set.
The Pre-Workouts We Recommend
If you want a product with a minimal ingredients list beside key performance enhancing components, we highly recommend the unflavored version of Naked Energy Pre Workout. It contains the "big three" scientifically based ingredients: caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine, as well as a mix of several vitamins and minerals and a small dose of arginine. Free of magnesium, sweeteners and betaine, which are on the list of suspects that can send you to the bathroom right in the middle of a training set.
Of all the suspects discussed in this article, this product contains only caffeine. So if you still want to get a good stimulatory effect from caffeine, while eliminating the possible effects of other ingredients on your gut, this product is a great choice!
If you are not bothered by the call to the toilet right during training (provided that you do not have accompanying symptoms - watery stool and abdominal pain), we recommend Intensive Pre-Train from Crazy Bulk. This product is packed with a mix of key and additional components that contribute to improved overall physical performance, increased training volume and better focus during heavy sets. Also expect a very strong pumping effect.
Note that this product contains betaine in a relatively low, but effective dose to obtain a training effect - 1.8 grams per serving. This is exactly what was discussed above - to get the necessary effective dosage, reducing the risk of diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms. Also, Intensive Pre-Train does not contain magnesium, stevia and monk fruit.
Should I take pre-workout shake if I have diarrhea
No, it is not advisable to take a pre-workout shake if you have diarrhea. However, you can experiment and try different products from different brands, taking into account the recommendations from this article. If you have diarrhea after any pre-workout, it is better to avoid them altogether. Сonsult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Is it normal to poop a lot after taking pre-workout?
In general, the normal frequency of bowel movements is from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. However, lifestyle, eating patterns and food volumes can influence what can be considered normal for each individual. So if you don't have accompanying symptoms that signal a possible problem (such as watery stools or abdominal cramps), there's little cause for concern. In any case it would be best to consult with a healthcare professional if you experience any persistent changes in your bowel habits.
Pre-workout supplements contain caffeine and other performance enhancing components, as well as food additives that can increase colon motility or even cause diarrhea. Also, individual intolerance or sensitivity to some ingredients cannot be ruled out. Use the recommendations from this article to prevent unpleasant incidents during training.
Now it's time to hear from you! Have you noticed that pre-workout makes you poop? Have you suffered from pre-workout induced diarrhea? Leave a comment below about your experience with pre-workout supplements!
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- Effects of caffeine on anorectal manometric findings // National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18350336/
- Betaine // Examine: https://examine.com/supplements/betaine/
- Magnesium // National Library of Medicine: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h14
- Food Additives, Gut Microbiota, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Hidden Track // National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7730902/
- Nutrition and healthy eating // Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936
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Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist, certified by FPA (Fitness Professional Association). Oleksandr adheres to the principles of evidence-based dietetics and instills in his clients a healthy relationship with food - without strict prohibitions on favorite foods and regular disruptions. His main task – not only get a result for you, but also maintain it for many years, enjoying tasty and delicious food.